Joseph Gegenbach, dit Canabas (1712-1797), maître in 1766.
Canabas, who was of German origin, came to Paris in 1745 where he initially worked for Jean-François Oeben and Pierre Migeon. The accounts of the latter, who was also a marchand, reveal that Canabas was supplying Migeon with furniture on a regular basis, before he became a master in 1766. He subsequently established himself in Faubourg Saint-Antoine, and supplied both his private clientele and other marchands. He specialised in small pieces of furniture, mainly utilitarian and practical pieces often of innovative conception. His furniture was mainly executed in the best possible solid mahogany with a few exceptions where he used mahogany veneers; and most, such as this example, usually lack ormolu mounts.
Canabas was a great inventor of furniture destined for the dining room and was one of the first ébénistes in France to conceive of pieces made especially for serving with the absence of domestic help. He specialised in these tables in the fashionable goût anglais called tables servantes or rafraîchissoirs. This model is usually executed with two undertiers; however, examples of rafraîchissoirs with just a single undertier are known to exist (P. Kjellberg, Le Mobilier Français du XVIIIème siècle, Paris, 2002, p. 164, fig. a).
A very similar example, also stamped by Canabas, is in the Musée Nissim de Camondo, Paris (illustrated in the exhibition catalogue Grands ébénistes et Menuisiers Parisiens du XVIIIè Siècle, 1740-1790, at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, December 1955 - February 1956, no. 37, pl. 17). Another pair of rafraîchissoirs in mahogany are in the Louvre, Paris (gift Mme Blard, 1994). A similar pair of rafraîchissoirs, both stamped Canabas, was sold at Christie's Monaco, 2 December 1994, lot 168 (FF 555.000), while another pair sold in Christie's Paris, 16 December 2002, lot 219 (Euros 39,950). A single similar example, also stamped by Canabas, was sold from the Dr Anton C.R. Dreesmann Collection, Christie's London, 10 April 2002, lot 346 (17,625).
The château marque au feu 'C.P', as well as the elegant form of this table, suggests that it was supplied to the château de Chanteloup. The fashion for furniture made of the highest quality mahogany was pioneered by the duc de Choiseul at Chanteloup, who almost exclusively, with Madame de Pompadour, commissioned a number of elegant "commodes à la grecque" in either mahogany or bois satiné from the atelier of Jean-François and Simon Oeben (for whom Canabas himself worked early in his career and to whom Canabas later supplied furniture). Furniture at Chanteloup under Choiseul was stamped with a 'C.P' beneath a crown. In the case of this table, it is conceivable that due to the rounded surface to which the brand has been applied, the crown element was either not applied correctly or has since worn away, as is the case with the top of the 'P'.
Following the death of the duc de Choiseul, the château de Chanteloup was sold to the duc de Penthièvre and he subsequently stamped the contents with his marque au feu, incorporating an anchor between the C and P to denote his rank as Grand Admiral of the French Navy. The furniture from Choiseul's Parisian hôtel in the rue de Richelieu, however, was sold at auction and much of this was purchased by the Garde-Meuble. It is probable that this particular table left Chanteloup prior to Choiseul's death and therefore does not incorporate the anchor in its marque au feu so common to furniture that passed through the collections of both Choiseul and Penthièvre at Chanteloup.